Courage To Come Back: Youth award recipient battles back from traumatic brain injury

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – One minute, he was like any other two-year-old; the next, his whole world was turned upside down by a traumatic brain injury.

NEWS 1130’s profiles on the 2016 Courage To Come Back Awards conclude with a look at the recipient in the Youth category.

“I was in the mall and we were getting a drink and then I was hit in the head by a big steel crate,” recalls Coltyn Liu.

“I was two years old, so I don’t remember everything. But I do remember the pain that came with it.”

He suffered a traumatic brain injury when he was just a toddler, the effects of which he still feels to this day.

“I became sensitive to noise and different weather conditions — like when I’m cold my skin can be affected, or just my whole body can be affected.”

He found himself bullied because of his challenges and given his particular needs, his mother decided it would be better for him to be home-schooled. Coltyn’s care would end up being a full-time job for the single mom.

But Coltyn and his family persevered, and these days, he is back in a classroom with kids his own age.

He looks like your typical teen, albeit at 6’4″, he may be taller than most 16-year-olds.

“It’s cool to see that I’m able to function more in that kind of setting, but it is still a struggle.”

It was through volleyball where Coltyn would find his sense of belonging.

“I started in it because my mom wanted to lower the amount of physio and therapy so she wanted to find like a natural way to do that,” he explains.

Both his mother and his sister played volleyball.

“[My mom] found that helped my depth perception, hearing and social issues. So, I went into that and I eventually just started getting better… and I found a love for it.”

His achievements in the sport have boosted his confidence immeasurably.

“It gives me motivation to get up when I’m not feeling well and it just helps me have a drive just to do better and I know that if there’s bad days, there will be better days and I think those better days are worth fighting for.”

Coltyn appeared in the BC Summer Games in Grade Seven, played on his first provincial team when he was in Grade 9, represented BC again in Grade 10, was then named to the national Selects team, and then won Volleyball BC’s Athlete Excellence Award just a few months ago.

Then there’s his charity work. He co-founded K.A.R.E Power, a youth group that fights bullying and raises money for less fortunate athletes.

“A lot of kids have to choose between eating healthy food and paying fees or playing in a size 10 shoe, when they’re actually a size 13” he points out.

“We [also] found a way to empower people that were bullied and people that are actual bullies to help them heal.”

Coltyn is grateful for his Courage To Come Back Award and more than a little humble about it, too.

“The weird thing is, I don’t feel like I’m doing anything special, I’m just living my life,” he insists.

“There’s hard times but I think, if you find your sense of belonging, it’s easier to overcome these obstacles.”

NEWS 1130 is a proud sponsor of the Courage To Come Back Awards, which will be handed out this Thursday (May 5th) at the Vancouver Convention Centre.

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